Rygar: The Legendary Adventure
I’ll bet every single one of you out there knows some stories out of ancient mythology. Either it’s about the 12 Titans, with Chronos as their main man, or about young Icarus, crashing into sea after having flown too closely towards the sun. A lot of writers found inspiration in the almost inexhaustible source that we call Greek Mythology. But game developers tend to read such stories from time to time as well. Not only do they implement them in RTS titles such as Age of Mythology, a mythological background suits a hack ‘n slash game like Rygar: The Legendary Adventure just as well.
A pretty nice intro movie shows you around the world of Rygar. The game sets off in the Roman Empire and you take on the role of Rygar, a gladiator inhabiting the island Argus. Once a paradise, it has now decayed and is nothing more than a land terorrised by meteorite impacts, vulcanic erruptions and a whole lot of oversized worms. While Rygar is being praised by the lovely princess Harmonia for his heroic actions, she is suddenly kidnapped by the Titans. And you, a tough warrior with shining muscles, can’t let this happen … d’uh !
From the very beginning, Rygar is shown as humanity’s final hero, who has to take on the evil Titans as an underdog. Sadly, Tecmo does this in such an exagerated way (you should hear the heroic sentences accompanied by the playing of horns) I sometimes found it extremely annoying. Later on, it will turn out Rygar is predestined to battle the Titans, since they want to free Chronos from the Hades (the underworld). Tecmo also tried to implement some swift surprises in the story, but unfortunately you can see most of them coming from miles away, so the storyline is rather dull. Next to that, the developers don’t really show much respect for ancient mythology. Icarus has suddenly become the leader of the Titans wanting to free Chronos, Cleopatra appears in the game out of nowhere, … It’s like Tecmo deliberately wanted to take some stories, put them in a rusty old blender and ostentatiously throw it all to the floor in order to crush some wild hamster. (PS: that hamster could have probably done a better job making up a story.)
But let’s forget all about the story and focus on the game itself, which is much more interesting. Rygar’s one and only weapon is called a Diskarmor; some sort of pointy shield, attached to a chain. Although I found it rather dull at first, it gets cooler once you collect more Diskarmors. There are 3 different ones, each having their own special abilities. One is used for fast, close combat, while another one can take down enemies on a very long range. Rygar can perform in about 15 different combo’s with each Diskarmor, which are pretty easy to learn. Next to that, once your “Icol meter” is high enough, each Diskarmor let’s you call a creature that damages all nearby enemies. True eye candy !
Each time a monster is killed, it leaves some sort of sphere behind. You should pick these up, since they act as bonus points for your character. With these, you can upgrade your Diskarmors. Another way to improve your skills is finding mysterious stones. Once put in a Diskarmor, they improve your attack or defense skills, or give you special abilities. You’ll find other objects in the levels as well, like nectar to recover health or Icol to boost your meter.
Not only does it act as a weapon, sometimes a Diskarmor can be used to swing from ledge to ledge. The game offers a combination of hack ‘n slash and platform-style puzzles. Pretty fun, it’s just a shame the camera can mess things up once in a while. Tecmo has chosen cinematic camera angles; the camera follows you a while, then switches to another point and angle. This often gives you beautiful panoramical views, but doesn’t come in handy when you need to calculate the distance for a jump. And when you fall from the same cliff for the 10th time, the controller might end up in the other side of the room.
Fortunately, the graphics are nothing far from gorgeous. Although some environements might seem a bit monotonous after time, some scenes will literally stun you. The game consists out of 7 world; you start off in the idyllic Argus to explore dark dungeons, a city floating through the clouds (a real “wow !” moment) to end up inside the underworld and kick Chronos’ ass. The textures and models may not always seem very detailed, the environements and special effects are magnificent and add a lot of ambience to the game.
The music doesn’t offer much variety, but the themes do fit the situation. When your chopping lots of enemies, trumpets will sound, when you’re jumping around on platforms, you’ll hear classical music.
Another thing that irritates me: the save-system. Here and there you’ll come across the statue of a lion’s head, where one can save his progress. Sometimes, you’ll need to defeat 3 different bosses before encountering such a statue, and when you’re not able to defeat that 3rd boss, you’ll have to start over again. Another minus is the length of the game; in just 6 or 7 hours I’ve walked through it entirely. In the end you do get some bonuses, but they aren’t really that great, unless of course you’ve always been dreaming of swinging a pizza in stead of a Diskarmor. You also unlock some artwork, but casual gamers probably won’t be interested in that either. To see every aspect of the game, you actually need to play through it on every grade of difficulty, but that wasn’t really my cup of tea.
The A.I. … not much to tell about this part. Although you’d expect monsters to just attack you, some do this, other ones rather enjoy just standing there doing nothing. Not that irritating, but it’s really the A.I. of some bosses that bothered me. Each boss has it’s own way of killing you and won’t even think of altering his method. So once you’ve learned his weakness, it’s fairly easy to win a fight. And then there are some minor bugs, like that boss that couldn’t move anymore because I just kept slashing him with my fast Diskarmor.
In conclusion: All in all, Tecmo deserves credit for showing some originality. Not paying any attention to the story, Rygar: The Legendary Adventure is a nice game that will satisfy both hack ‘n slash and platform fans. Diskarmors turned out to be real cool weapons, ideal to kick some demon ass. Unfortunately there are just too much negativo’s, like the rather weak A.I. and especially the shortness of the game. A nice game to rent for the weekend, but it just lacks depth and length to score any better.